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Soggy Sunday In Settle

Ride Date - 22 March 2017

By Ren Withnell & Sharon Parker

Ren Says...

Regular reader and commenter Borsuk is back in the UK for a handful of days. Last week we agreed via email to meet at Ye Olde Naked Man cafe in Settle for a brew and a chat. Last week that seemed like a great idea. Today meeting Borsuk still seems like a good idea but choosing Settle some 50 miles away seems foolish. It's raining. Hard.

Ye Olde Naked Man in settle - on a dry day a few years ago
Sharon as a real novice at Settle, probably 3 or more years ago.

Covered in head to toe waterproofs Sharon and I bravely venture out into the grimy grey apocalyptic deluge. We heroically ride through lorry spray and raindrops the size of golf balls. We carve corners where the tarmac has turned to flowing streams. We negotiate puddles growing into lakes. Considering how Sharon still thinks of herself as a novice rider I'm both impressed and yet concerned at just how well she's keeping up with me in these most horrible conditions. 

What also catches me by surprise are the floods. As we ride out of Long Preston along the A65 the road rises up and between the mist and the droplets I can make out the whole valley floor is flooded. Trees and hedges pop out here and there otherwise what ought to be lush green farmland looks more like a lake in the mist. I'm surprised this isn't making the news, maybe this happens often but I've never seen it myself before. 

Borsuk is outside Ye Olde naked Man cafe when we roll into Settle. He has a distinct Scottish accent with an immediately informal persona from the start. He with his stepson, a large lad riding a MSX125 Grom. They are soaked, Borsuk has a minor leak through his bike pants but stepson Matthew only has jeans on, he might as well have been swimming through the floods. Apparently is wasn't raining when they set off and like any youth Matthew knew precisely what the weather would do so didn't pack waterproofs.

Ye Olde Naked Man is full to the brim so we go to a pub around the corner, this is quite busy too as everyone is sheltering from the rain. We sit and get to know one another over tea and coffee then return to Ye Olde Naked Man where we eventually find a seat to dine. Outside the rain changes from soaking to heavy then pouring to drenching while we eat. It's grim up North.

Matthew is at college studying film and tv things while Borsuk's life flits between a home in Spain, family in the UK and working at sea in far flung places. I feel rather ordinary. His riding career is a new thing encouraged by Matthew and they both have plans to get through their motorcycle tests. So far even this awful weather isn't putting them off. I suspect Borsuk sees a lot worse than this at sea, apparently worse things always happen at sea. Despite being soaked they're both in good spirits and passionate about their forthcoming 2 wheeled adventures

In spite of the rain Sharon seems happy to take a more interesting route home - "Well we might as well make the most of it". I do worry about her at times, she makes no sense but then she's a woman and to me they rarely make sense. I have desperately tried to understand but all I have learned is my life works better if I just smile and nod and don't concern myself with the logic, if indeed there is any.

The B6480 twists and rolls us through deep puddles and stiff side winds into Bentham. Beyond there we follow Long Lane towards Wray.

A driver flashes his lights and I notice a flood ahead. Between the hedges the road dips and I estimate there's between 6 inches to a foot of water. I motion to Sharon to slow, perhaps wait until I cross. I'm on my big butch manly Adventure (style) CB500X - ug - me hero, me wade through, you wait to see if I survive woman - ug. I plough into the mire gallantly risking my motorcycle and a soaking to ensure the route is safe for my delicate little flower of a girlfriend on her dinky little barbie doll bike. 

As the water rises to my feet and the bow wave splashes atop of my fairing I look into my mirror. What do I see? My delicate little flower of a girlfriend on her dinky little barbie doll bike giving it large into the flood, engine screaming, full ahead captain and bugger the icebergs! I have to power out to avoid being run over by her. She can't possibly see me as all I can see is a wall of water spray behind which there may be a helmet, hi-viz jacket and perhaps a Kawasaki. I do worry about her at times.

A little later as we approach a similar flood I have learned my lesson. I make sure I'm ahead and ready to get moving. I'm half expecting her to come past me at 85mph using the speed to aquaplane over the waters rather than risk getting her lovely bike wet again. No, there's another wall of water spray, the sound of a high revving single being pushed to the max and a tidal wave any earth quake would be proud of. I do worry about her at times.

We stop at Caton and she's grinning like a demented imbecile. I think it might be prudent to ride the motorways back home.

Many thanks to Borsuk and Matthew for their entertaining company. Next time we meet I hope for dry weather where we can sit outside and relax but there's nothing anyone can do about the weather. As for Sharon, you need your bumps feeling woman.

Sharon Says...

I like to meet new folks. Especially bikers, because then I get to talk all things motorcycle. So I am up early on Sunday to firstly ride to Rens house and then to ride on to Settle to meet with Borsuk and his riding companion. Despite a forecast of rain the morning is dry if somewhat grey. Rain does not look imminent so waterproofs are packed rather than worn. My arm is aching this morning so the lightweight Kawasaki still hurts me a bit pulling it backwards out of the shed. However I am grateful that this is this bike I chose and not something heavier. 

As soon as I am on the Kawasaki I love it. She is so incredibly easy to ride. So well balanced and responsive. She even makes the motorway fun. Wahoo, I do love the ability to overtake. It is nice to ride the outside lane occasionally.  All is good on the M62 and the M60. But when I turn off onto to the M61 I hit the all to familiar wall of water. Damn I can not get my waterproofs on now, oh well let's just hope my so called waterproof textiles can cope with the 15 minutes I need to get to Ren's house.

The rain is now relentless so waterproofs are put on at Ren's and it's off to Settle. I think I read somewhere that the stock tyres on my bike were rubbish in the wet. Well the rear has been replaced due to a puncture but the front is still the stock Dunlop and I can confirm it has no problems at all in the wet. I have no idea who these test riders are that seem to find most stock tyres akin to hell on wheels. Maybe they can not actually ride in the wet on any tyres? Regardless the tyres hold fast to the road in what I can only really describe as a deluge. Apart from not seeing too well and having to wipe my visor frequently, wet weather riding does not bother me. I have done it a lot and therefore I guess I am fairly confident rider in the wet. Strangely I always have been. I am not the best in bends or the fastest on the straight but wet weather...well maybe it is just my thing.

Sharon standing in all her wet weather riding gear looking wryly at the cameraSharon's wet weather experience is unquestionable.

As we approach Settle the rivers seem very swollen, on the edge of breaching their banks. The further we go the higher the rivers, until yes finally they are up and over and flooding the surrounding fields. I wonder if we might not actually be getting home later on if this flooding gets worse.

I know this route fairly well although I have not been this way for some time. I recall fondly my first terrifying trip this way on my little 125cc. I remember being grateful for the 30mph zones to give my screaming engine a rest and for my heartbeat to reduce. Now the 30mph zones are a annoyance and my heartbeat is steady but in a good way not a bored way. I am really enjoying this ride. It feels good to feel in control and not terrified. When I see a tractor ahead it feels good to assess the situation and know I can safely overtake. No panic, no hesitation and no drama, just a nice easy overtake. To finally feel this comfortable on my bike has been a long time coming and I am enjoying every precious second of it. I ride pass the scene of my friend Bob's fatal crash and I give him a nod and a smile. If he is floating around on clouds I am sure he will be cheering me on in this wild weather. 

Not too surprisingly we pass few other bikers. Maybe they have more sense but I am glad to see Borsuk is as silly as Ren and I and he is already waiting for us when we get to our destination. We have a enjoyable afternoon talking bikes and jobs and bikes. Borsuk and Matthew are both new to riding so I love that they still have such rawness and enthusiasm. But time marched on and it was soon time to think about heading home. Now I knew the sensible thing in such inclement weather would to be to get home the fastest way possible. However you know I am not really a full picnic so when Ren says straight home or not I go for not. Hey! So what if an ark would be more apt than a motorbike right now it is Sunday, my funday, my ride day and ride I will. 

And ride we do. The bikes are at times pushed almost sideways by the wind..Wahooo. The flooded fields have now begun to flood the roads. Water, water everywhere. A car flashes us...what a police speed trap out in this weather ??? No just a bloody great mini lake across the road. Right OK what do we do now then? Do we stop and turn around? Stop and cry? I watch Ren closely...OK he is not stopping but he is signalling for me to slow down, OK yes that seems prudent. But he continues on and slices through the water like a hot knife through butter. He seems not the least bit concerned that it may be 20 feet deep and have a lost Loch Ness Monster hidden in its depths, so then nothing to worry about here then clearly. I will simply follow where my master led. I am somewhat surprised by just how deep this water actually is. Such is the depth that it breaches my waterproof Daytona boots by finding its way up and over the top of one of them. I feel my boot fill up to the brim with water...nice. I feel a moments panic...are the bike and I going to...break on through to the other side...ahh a bit of Jim Morrison now to distract myself from my fear and the next thing you know both myself and my little speedboat are out of the lake.

Another lake soon appears and oh dear it seems even deeper somehow. I am a little worried about this so if you know me you know there is only one way to deal with anything that frightens me on the bike. More power. Now I know, because even if I am not a full picnic I still have some filling in between my bread, that whilst driving a car through water one should have a low gear with high revs to help prevent the car from stalling. However I did not have enough filling to know if the same was true for bikes. I had no time to consult the oracle that is Google I simply had to make a half educated guess and my guess was do what you would in a car. I dropped the gears and entered the flood. Now I also know that you are supposed to strike some kind of balance and not go too slow but neither so fast that you create a bow wave. A bow wave HAAA oh no I did not create a bow wave, no I created something akin to the kind of wave that launched the bloody QE2. It would appear that one was going too fast. The wave of my own making hit me square in my face and created a perfect impression of being stuck in an actual car wash while on my bike. I could see nothing but water, I could hear nothing but water wooshing over my helmet. Err this is madness, this is terrifying and this is sooo much bloody fun...Wahooooo!!! 

the valley floor of this farmland is filled with floodwaters near Caton, LancasterBiking weather ? Why not we are not made of sugar thee knows.

A small part of me thinks I should be crying by now surely it is not normal to be enjoying this so much?? But hell sod normal I never wanted to be normal so if this is fun to me then lets enjoy it. The weather certainly keeps me focused and makes a familiar road into something entirely new. I continued to enjoy the ride until we eventually hit the motorway for the last stretch home. My sodden foot was beginning to get really cold and the hours of concentration was making me tired now. So I was happy when home came into sight. 

But hell what an amazing day. I totally loved the sheer challenge of taking on some extreme weather conditions. It scared me and thrilled me. I think after today I can finally say my little Kawasaki is now a fully fledged adventure bike. Maybe just maybe I am also not a novice rider myself any more but a mini adventure rider in the making.       

Have you a tale of riding through a deluge? Perhaps a story of it being too warm or dry (imagine that....mmmmmmm). We'd love to hear it and publish it for our readers too. Click Here.

Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
Lovely tale from both and makes me glad I'm warm & dry at home soldering bits of wire together!

Riding in the rain ceased to be fun for me when I had to do it day in day out but I always like to hear about others having a good time.

Sharon - re wiping your visor, have you tried the Mr Sheen / Pledge treatment? It may not help when you're submerging yourself in a bow wave but under normal wet conditions it certainly keeps the visor clear in my experience. And stops you from wiping it which again in my experience is a good way of scratching it....
22/3/2017 3:52:36 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Ian I make a point of not wiping my visor unless absolutely necessary. Wiping is that which causes the "Starburst" scratches at night when overly bright LED lights are pointed at you.

I still find like Sharon a degree of pleasure in taking on the weather. It's one of those things that's greatly affected by mood though. When as you say it has to be done day in day out it can be awful too.

What ya soldering?
22/3/2017 10:41:51 PM UTC
Sharon said :-
Hi Ian,

I did try the polish once. Not however on this occasion. I have thus far only managed to apply it once because as it is not a habit as yet I keep forgetting. I will endeavour to do better. On the one occasion I did remember to apply it it did not rain but the visor did get dirty so I would have subsequently washed it off.

I know wiping the visor is not recommended but rather a scratched visor than a smashed up me because I can't see where I am going. I do try to be as gentle as I can, which must be gentle enough because after nearly 4 years the visor is fairly scratch free. I think. You never realise how scratched your visor is usually until you get a new one. Then you are like Wow!! A whole new bright world. Hmmm 4 year old helmet. Maybe I can justify buying that new one I saw and loved so much. Hmmm thanks Ian.
23/3/2017 12:04:55 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
What am I soldering?

Currently playing about with making an oscilloscope cable to plug into the tablet / mobile phone using the microphone input.

As in the link.

More use for the car than the bike although I find once you have something like this it becomes indispensable.
23/3/2017 11:00:58 AM UTC
Borsuk said :-
Was fun meeting you both.
Never noticed the rain, we were having too much fun.437
23/3/2017 12:44:27 PM UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
I do love to hear other folk's bad weather woes. I'll try to remember this the next time I can feel the freezing rain dribbling down the back of my neck, and just know that in a few moments the crotch (why is it always the crotch?) of my 'waterproof' trousers will start to leak again.

Great link about the oscilloscope Ian, I'll be trying that myself....
24/3/2017 11:55:17 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Yeah Ian, good call on the O Silly Scope thingumajig. I dunno if I'm tech enough to do that but I do have an old phone I don't mind sending south.

Borsuk - I bet your lad noticed the rain! He must have been freezing by the time he got home surely.
24/3/2017 6:12:07 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
You don't need to wreck your phone (I hope.............) as there's no dismantling involved.

Having said that, my own phone bricked itself shortly after my (well the Honda's) breakdown - probably because of the rude words I said about it. Now replaced by a used ebay one.

I haven't even tried the oscilloscope yet.
25/3/2017 10:41:09 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
If I start plugging wires into the headphone jack I'm sure I can break something if I try hard enough. You underestimate my destructive skills.
26/3/2017 6:31:20 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I refer the honourable gentleman to his previous comment:

" Where's the fun in that? Where's the trepidation wondering whether or not you've shorted out under the seat and you're about to set fire to your pants?"
26/3/2017 2:05:25 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
That's why I'd use my old phone.
27/3/2017 6:36:26 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Oscilloscope up and running. The photo below shows the trace from the pulse generator.

Sadly I have no idea what this means but am guessing that the vertical bits are triggers for the CDI unit. Maybe upward pulses trigger one coil pack, downward the other? I'd love to hear from anybody who knows more about this stuff (which TBH is probably just about everybody). Bob?

What it does tell me is that, sitting in the garage, the pulse generator is - well, generating pulses.

I suppose the next step is to venture forth into the wilderness, wait till it breaks down, then see what's happening. But of course I will have forgotten the bits of wire / phone etc......

1/4/2017 1:59:54 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I know some of you have not been able to sleep worrying about my Super Four and its problems.

After exhaustive and exhausting testing the only actual problem I could find was that one plug cap sometimes showed an infinite resistance rather than the specified 5 KO. I've replaced it, and just been out for a 40 mile run and it's behaved perfectly. Hopefully this is it sorted (and I enjoyed it although the ergonomics need to be sorted out a bit).

I find it hard to believe that a single plug cap can have caused all this grief but I found nothing else wrong that I could really identify.

Many thanks for all suggestions and help.
4/4/2017 1:52:30 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
OH you're welcome Ian...

What age/miles is the Super Four now? The spark plug caps are pretty well protected by the engine on that model but by now they're likely to be degrading due to age.

Is it worth changing the other 3 as a preventative step?
4/4/2017 5:17:27 PM UTC

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